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Wilmington leads state in violent crimes

READ MORE: Wilmington leads state in violent crimes

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- Which North Carolina city do you think is most violent? Durham? Charlotte? Would you believe Wilmington? Recent crime numbers released by the FBI say it is.

According to the FBI's preliminary annual crime report, Wilmington tops the list of cities larger than 100,000 people in North Carolina with the most violent crimes per capita.

The FBI says violent crimes include murder, forcible rape, robbery and aggravated assault, but what do experts think about the numbers? UNCW criminology professor Michael Maume says according to the data, "Wilmington's violent crime rate is higher than rates for other large cities in 2009. However, it is difficult to make comparisons between Wilmington and these other cities. Some cities are characterized more than others by transient populations, who may have a greater chance of involvement in crime (e.g., tourists and other out-of-town visitors)."

Dr. Maume says other factors like poverty, unemployment and a young population can affect the numbers as well.

So the question still remains is Wilmington the most violent city in the state? It depends on who you ask.

"We've seen over 1,700 less (violent) crimes than 2002-2003," Wilmington Police Chief Ralph Evangelous said. "So we've made some pretty good gains, but we do have too much crime. There's no question about it."

Dale Saunders found that out the hard way. He was mugged in Downtown Wilmington a few weeks ago.

"I know a lot of people who have been a victim of crime that have ended up in a lot worse shape than I have physically," Saunders said.

Saunders is now more alert when he's out. Police say their best advice to keep you safe.

"You're not safe in any part of the world if you're not smart," Evangelous said. "You can be in the greatest, safest community, but you still have to be smart."

To be fair the numbers are part of a preliminary report and won't be final until later on this year. The FBI also suggests that no direct comparisons be made to other cities because there are so many factors that make each city different.

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